President Erdoğan says he’s ‘hopeful’ for CHP support in new constitution

On his return from Iraq visit, President Erdoğan stated that Turkey has to “get rid of” the current constitution, and “adopt an innovative and libertarian constitution.” Erdoğan added he thinks and believes that the CHP “can support such a change.” In response, CHP leader Özel urged Erdoğan to abide by the current constitution in the first place.

Duvar English

In the aftermath of the March 31st elections, the debate on the new draft constitution has once again started.

In his return from Iraq visit on April 23, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated that he is hopeful that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will throw a support behind their constitutional draft preparations.

When asked whether there would “be a compromise with the CHP on the new constitution,” Erdoğan reiterated “the need” for a new constitution in Turkey. 

“There is talk of change in many areas of the world. Sociologies, technologies, climates and many other grounds are changing very fast. In order to keep up with this, it is time for Turkey to get rid of the old constitutional text that contains the spirit of the coup and to adopt an innovative and libertarian constitution,” Erdoğan first said. 

“I think and believe that the Republican People's Party can also support such a change. Moreover, I know that the Parliament Speaker (Numan Kurtulmuş) has the idea of discussing these issues with the party leaders during his meetings with them. If (CHP leader) Mr. Özel's visit (to me) takes place, there is nothing more natural than proposing to him that we can take such a step by discussing these issues with him,” he added.

On April 23 evening, the duo had a brief meeting at the Parliament, agreeing on an official meeting in the next week. 

The duo has met for the first time since Özel was elected as the CHP leader in November 2023. In a surprising result, the CHP has become the leading party in the March 31 local elections, as the AKP has become the second party for the first time in its history.

After the meeting CHP leader Özgür Özel said he would not close the door to negotiations on a new constitution without listening to Erdoğan, but urged Erdoğan to abide by the current constitution in the first place.

“Will you change a constitution that you are not abiding by? The last constitution was made for Mr. Erdoğan. Does he abide by this constitution? I know that he doesn’t obey the ECHR rulings. He doesn’t recognize the Constitutional Court decisions in the recent example of Can Atalay. He doesn’t obey the Constitutional Court decision on the opening of Taksim Square to May 1 (celebrations). An Erdoğan who abides by the current constitution can talk to us about a new constitution,” Özel added.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials and President Erdoğan have stated on various occasions that they will work on preparing a new constitution and that they will include regulations on “protecting the family structure” against “perverted movements,” targeting the LGBTI+ community in the country.

In a parliamentary session on April 23, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party co-chair Tülay Hatimoğulları also stated the need “to get rid of the patched September 12 coup constitution and build a Democratic Republic together.”

Some opposition İYİ (Good) Party deputies also hinted that they might support a new constitution with the condition of returning to the parliamentary system.”

The 1982 Constitution, prepared by the military regime, was amended 19 times. Three referendums for the constitutional amendments were held in 2007, 2010, 2017 under the ruling AKP, paving the way for the centralized hyper-presidential regime of today.

Before the 1982 Constitution, the Republic of Turkey had had three different constitutions, prepared in 1921, 1924 and 1961.

A constitutional draft has to be approved by at least 360 deputies in the Parliament, out of 600, for a referendum to be held. With more than 400 deputies, the draft can be approved without a referendum.

The ruling People's Alliance currently has 320 deputies.